Transcript: Blockchain, NFTs and the lack of female presence in leadership roles in Business with Somi Arian

November 24, 2022
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Transcript: Guest AMA with Somi 

Pratik: Hello everyone. Welcome to our guest AMA Session, and today we have a special guest Somi Arian on our show. She's a tech philosopher and an entrepreneur and hosts a podcast called Somi Arian Podcast, where she discusses the lack of female presence in leadership roles such as in business and technology in academics, industry leaders and thinkers, and she discusses with people across the world and together brainstorm on how this narrative can be changed. She has a documentary called 'The Millennial Disruption', staring big names like Gary V and the Head of Marketing from Bentley. She wrote a book called Career Fear and how to beat it.

She's also the founder of InPeak, which is a lifelong learning platform for emerging technologies such as Web 3.0, crypto, NFTs, DeFi, and the Metaverse, and Even Macro Economy. So, without any further ado, let's get started.

Jerome: Thank you Somi for joining us on our Guest AMA. First question would be, what are you currently focused on at in peak and what's the current goal that you have?

Maybe you can give some examples of objectives and and current focus that, that you have right now?

Somi: Yeah, sure. So right now, because we are in a bear market, we are not focusing on onboarding people from web two because they are just not coming in. The image of crypto has been damaged to say the least. 

So, we are focusing on people who are already in Web 3.0. And by that I mean there are a lot of people who are within the crypto communities who don't necessarily think of themselves as being in web 3.0. For us, when I say people who are in web 3.0, I mean everybody who owns a wallet, who knows how to use the blockchain, who knows how to Interact with tokens. Now, a lot of those people may not necessarily think of themselves as being a Web 3.0. A lot of them may not like the term Web 3.0. But I think that will change over time. It's a marketing term, Web 3.0 is a marketing term, and it helps us communicate. 

What we mean by that is people who understand blockchain technology to some degree and at least have some kind of exposure to tokens. So we are focusing on those people to educate as much as possible. So with InPeak is a professional networking and education platform. I call it the LinkedIn/Masterclass of Web 3.0. So that's what we are building. So that's going to be the focus in the next three to six months. And we will see how things improve. Hopefully from there. I think we are not gonna see more people coming into the web 3.0 space until the next bull market, to be honest.

Jerome: Regarding this onboarding web 2.0 and web 3.0. So what would be your take on the adoption of people actually in web 2.0 during bull market. Is it something that is rather easy to, to have them pick on the subject and understanding what blockchain is all about and so on?

Or does it require a bit of work or do you feel like they're really prone to understanding it? Because of course during bull market, everyone is attracted by the price. But what would be your take on that?

Somi: Yeah. So we saw a little bit of that in the last bull market. You know, especially with the boom of NFTs, we started to have a lot of interest from people on our platform who wanted to come in and, and start learning. Quite a number of them are still here. Like I'd say that of the people that we manage to onboard, most of them are still here. So they haven't quite left the space. That's reassuring. So I think yes, people will be attracted in the beginning. They will be attracted cause of the price appreciation, and, and they, they feel that FOMO and thinking like you know, I'm gonna be left behind if I don't get on board with this.

But once they get in, they realize that there's more to it. I always say that tokenization is going to be you know a technology that, that will impact everything to do with how we do business in a similar way that social media did. 

Whether they're fungible tokens or non fungible tokens or soul bound tokens, and probably there will be other types of tokens, but there will be so many different types of tokens. And what do tokens do? A token is a unit of value on the blockchain, so it allows us to exchange value in a digital environment in a way that we could never do that.

Since we are going to be living primarily in a digital world we also need the right kind of economy for that digital world, and that's what Tokenization is about.

Jerome: That's actually funny. You know, internally we have this analogy that we're using where we describe the blockchain as the casino, right? So you basically want to enter the poker table, but before you can do that, it's not really convenient to exchange, your value in dollar term, right? So when you enter the casino, you basically change your dollars for poker chips, and then you enter the table. You are able to play the game, exchange the poker chips and so on. And when you want to leave, you can take the poker chips and withdraw all of that and gain your dollars back. So definitely agree on that. 

Following up on the tokens and NFTs, maybe you can dive a bit deeper on what would be some impact on the real world with the NFTs and how the adoption of NFTs might be impacting different sectors. For example, both digital and as well in traditional.

Somi: Yeah, definitely. So I think actually NFTs are not sustainable as as a business model in themselves for building businesses on top of them. I think NFTs are a great tool for marketing. One of the things that we are using NFTs for is for our Genesis and Gen 2 passes, which is like a limited number of tokens. And then after that we are moving to soul bound tokens. So from December we are moving to soul bound tokens. And I think if you are building a a business that requires you know, some form of whether it's membership or a large amount of people coming onto your platform or your user base or your customer base, et cetera, then, then NFTs are not really sustainable for that because of the tradeability of it. The people trade it and the price goes up and the price goes up so much that it's not attainable anymore.

So we are going to be using our NFTs to create a base price to show this is what market values for our services and what we are building. And then we give people a cheaper option for soul bound tokens as the non tradeable option of that.

So, having that kind of like a high value NFT is a really good marketing tool. So I think we are gonna be using a combination of different kind of tokens. And then depending on regulatory frameworks and clarity, we may also have an ERC 20 token at some point where we would use that for microtransactions on our platform so that it can, unlock different kinds of small features that people want to unlock. Let's say, you use our soul bound token to get access to you know, the platform content. It could be that you don't wanna be paying for lots of other features on the platform, but there's like a specific feature like posting a job on the platform that you can use the microtransactions with our ERC 20 tokens. So I think that with our business, we will use all three types of tokens that are currently available. So that will be fungible tokens, non fungible tokens, and soul bound tokens. Who knows, I think in the coming months and years, we may develop new kinds of tokens. What I like about tokens is that, a token is a unit of value on the blockchain, and what's special about it is that it's programmable.

So there's quite a lot you can do with the way that you program these tokens. You can have dynamic tokens so that it helps create engagement. It helps create different kinds of effects that a business wants to achieve.

Pratik: And is there a specific blockchain you are focused on or are you experimenting with multiple different blockchain NFTs?

Somi: We are currently focusing on Ethereum. I considered doing Solana tokens, but that was before everything that happened with FTX. And I'm glad that we didn't actually go down that route because any kind of work that we would've done on that would be impacted by now. At the moment, I don't really feel confident enough about any other blockchain to put my money on.

Pratik: So strictly Ethereum or also considering Polygon as a part of Ethereum ecosystem? 

Somi: We may do something with Polygon. I'm considering maybe creating some kind of a trial token with Polygon. But I have some other plans that I'm pursuing right now and if those work, we may not do the polygon one. I think at some point we will use layer 2s on some level. But at the moment there is a little bit of extra steps that I prefer, to pay the extra money to be on the, the mainnet.

Pratik: And then speaking of having things on blockchain, there's two camps where people either say, Everything needs to be on blockchain, so it's completely decentralized, and then there's people who argue against it that we don't need everything on blockchain because we could deal with centralized parties if it's well regulated and stuff like that. What's your opinion on that? Does everything have to be on blockchain? 

Somi: First of all, I don't think that a blockchain equals decentralization. That's not the case. You know what blockchain is good at is creating a possibility of digital ownership and digital transactions in a way that it doesn't have to go through a banking system. I think that there is no going back from blockchain. I cannot see a world where I think everybody will use blockchain on some level. 

Because if we go back to that analogy of the casino, I don't like the analogy by the way, because I think that it's not really like a casino. It's just another world, it's the metaverse, right? You have to think of it as an environment where you can truly exchange digital assets.

But if you did think of that as that casino, I know what you are getting at with it. It's like you go through that door and once you go through that door, you need their currency, right? You need their tokens, For any kind of assets that we want to be able to have a meaningful digital asset transaction, we are gonna need the blockchain. 

I can't see how say a banking system can manage that. It just doesn't make sense. As more and more people discover the blockchain technology, it just makes it so much easier to exchange and store value in a digital format that it would make sense for everybody to use it.

Jerome: Totally agree with that. And I would say, of course, I mean, the analogy I would say certainly will change over time as we have less onboarding and more digitization of everything, right? Real world asset directly on chain. And we will certainly, at some point we'll have full digitization of the economy and we will basically have no on-boarding off-boarding because everything will be already on-chain. Already digital with interoperability across the different blockchains, for example, different networks where they're centralized or decentralized. So certainly the analogy only fits the current environment certainly will change in the future.

Pratik: I wanted to quickly touch upon the ESG arguments that people are making. What's your take on that? Ethereum is proof of stake now, but what do you think about the proof of work blockchains?

Somi: Look, I think that anything that brings value to humanity is worth paying for. And if gold is of value to us, we spend quite a lot of time, money, energy, resources to dig gold and refine it and use it in many ways. If Bitcoin is bringing that value which we are seeing that it does, considering that with everything that's going on, I think it's important to have a digital gold, store value type thing, and I think it's doing a good job of that. And it's been very resilient. I can see a value for it. So I think that the ESG concerns most of the time are politically motivated. I don't buy into them too much. I think for Ethereum it makes sense to be a proof of stake network because we use Ethereum a lot more than Bitcoin for so many different things.

When I think about how much I use Ethereum, I use Ethereum on a daily basis. I use it to pay my staff, some of my staff get paid in ETH, I use it for NFTs, onboarding, membership, et cetera. Bitcoin is more of a store of value. It doesn't have the same level of daily usage.So for Ethereum, because of the level of daily usage that it has, it makes sense for it to be more on proof of stake and be more green. 

Pratik: That's a good argument. Well, Somi appreciate your time. Thanks for stopping by and hope to talk to you soon.

Somi: Thank you. It was great talking to you.

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